DUI Charges – What You Need to Know.

Drunk driving cases are the most numerous criminal offenses reported, and Michigan is one of the most strict regarding these types of offenses.

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Are Most People Accused of DUI Guilty?

After an arrest, police routinely give suspected drunk drivers a breath test analysis and not a blood test. The machines police officers may use can malfunction or be operated improperly. A “regular” attorney will assume that since the state approved the machine, it is reliable and not subject to challenge. Misunderstandings can lead to an inadequate, ineffective OWI defense in Michigan. Misunderstandings of accused DUI drivers can have disastrous consequences, so it is essential that you seek advice from an experienced OWI defense lawyer.

The police will also have an opinion as to a driver’s level of intoxication. These opinions are related to roadside sobriety testing. The National Highway Safety and Traffic Safety Administration has determined that only a few of the battery of tests police use are recognized as being able to assess intoxication accurately. Also, recent studies indicate these tests are not given uniformly by police officers, so there can be no basis for assuming they are valid. Without an attorney qualified by the NHTSA, you will have no way of knowing whether the tests you were given are valid in a court of law.

The police will also have an observation of a driver’s level of intoxication. Police reports almost always reference slurred speech and bloodshot/glassy eyes. Those conditions can be caused by any number of reasons not related to alcohol consumption, such as being sleepy or suffering from allergies.

Misunderstandings of Those Accused of DUI

Those accused of DUI often have many misunderstandings that can impact the decisions they make relative to their defense in court. A good lawyer can help someone get greater clarity and alleviate these misconceptions.

“I Must Be Guilty If I Failed a Breathalyzer Test”

Another common misunderstanding of those accused of DUI is that if they fail a breath or blood test, they are automatically guilty and have no defense. While failing a breathalyzer test can be strong evidence against the accused, it’s not an automatic guarantee of guilt. Breathalyzer machines, such as the Intoxilyzer 9000, and blood tests can be inaccurate, and there are legal defenses and procedural issues that can challenge the results. Also, strong constitutional or mitigation/equitable defenses can help with plea bargaining, sentence reductions, and even a dismissal of criminal charges.

“Refusing a Breathalyzer Test Means No DUI”

Some believe that refusing a breathalyzer test will save them from an OWI or DUI charge. However, refusal often leads to automatic penalties, such as an implied consent license suspension, and can be used as evidence of guilt in some jurisdictions.

“OWI charges are indefensible. It doesn’t matter if I have an experienced lawyer.”

There are many things to be aware of when representing someone charged with a DUI. There are many DUI lawyers in Michigan, but very few would be widely considered to have extensive expertise and a reputation for winning. When you are charged with DUI, it is imperative that you retain the services of attorneys who are specialists in the field of defending drunk driving, OWI, DUI, and OWPD defense. The premier DUI law firm in Michigan is LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. We provide our clients with the most creative, effective, and up-to-date defenses. We are not afraid to win!

Facing OWI Charges in Michigan?

More Common Misunderstandings of Those Accused of DUI and OWI in Michigan

Knowledge is power! If you have accurate information, you can make more informed, helpful decisions regarding your OWI defense.

“I Don’t Need a Lawyer for a DUI Case”

Given the complexities and potential consequences of DUI/OWI charges, having legal representation is crucial. A skilled attorney can navigate the legal system, challenge evidence, and potentially negotiate reduced charges or penalties. Hiring a bargain lawyer, general practice attorney, or lawyer not specialized in OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) defense can pose significant risks in handling an OWI case. These types of attorneys may lack the specific knowledge and experience required to navigate the complexities of OWI law effectively. OWI defense is a specialized field often involving intricate legal issues related to traffic laws, chemical testing procedures, and constitutional rights. A general practice attorney or a less expensive lawyer might not be fully versed in these nuances, potentially leading to a weaker defense strategy.

Moreover, they may not be current with the latest legal precedents and technologies used in sobriety testing or have established relationships with local prosecutors and judges, which can be crucial in negotiating favorable outcomes or identifying procedural errors. In OWI cases, where the stakes include potential jail time, significant fines, license suspension, and long-term impacts on one’s criminal record and reputation, having an attorney with specialized expertise and a proven track record in OWI cases can make a substantial difference in the case outcome. Therefore, while the initial cost savings of a bargain or general practice lawyer can be appealing, it may ultimately lead to more severe legal and financial consequences in the long run.

“If I’m Polite and Cooperative, I’ll Get Off Easy.”

While being polite and cooperative with law enforcement is generally advisable, it doesn’t guarantee lenient treatment. The legal process follows specific protocols and evidence, regardless of demeanor. Generally, police officers, judges, and prosecutors expect people to act respectfully. Although someone might not get special treatment if they are courteous or cooperative, they will likely get penalized if they are disrespectful, uncooperative, or resist the police.

“DUIs are Only for Alcohol”

DUI or OWI charges can result from impairment due to any substance, including prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and illegal substances, not just alcohol. In Michigan, “Operating With the Presence of Drugs” (OWPD) is a specific criminal offense that pertains to driving a vehicle with any amount of certain illegal drugs in one’s system. It is distinct from other driving under the influence offenses like OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) and OWVI (Operating While Visibly Impaired).

OWPD is often referred to as a “zero-tolerance” offense. It criminalizes operating a motor vehicle if there is any detectable amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance or cocaine in the driver’s body. Schedule 1 drugs typically include substances that have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, such as heroin, LSD, and some other hallucinogens.

Unlike OWI or OWVI, there is no need to prove that the driver was impaired or under the influence of the drug. The mere presence of the drug in the driver’s system constitutes an offense.

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Even More Misunderstandings of Those Accused of DUI

There is power and value in having accurate information. Here are some more DUI misunderstandings that you should know about.

“A DUI Only Affects My Driving Record”

A DUI/OWI conviction can have wide-ranging effects beyond driving privileges. It can impact employment opportunities, insurance rates, driver’s license eligibility, and international travel. For example, you cannot enter Canada with an alcohol or drug-related conviction, such as OWI or DUI. Many employers will not hire someone with a criminal record, especially a DUI, if someone might have to drive as part of their employment.

You can be charged with “Operating While Visibly Impaired” (OWVI) if you are impaired to a degree that affects your ability to drive safely, even if your blood alcohol concentration is below the legal limit. For an OWVI charge, the driver doesn’t need to exceed the legal BAC limit of 0.08%. The focus is on whether the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle was visibly impaired by alcohol or drugs. This means a person could potentially be charged with OWVI even if their BAC is below the legal limit. The prosecution must prove that the impairment was noticeable and affected the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely. This is often demonstrated through observations of driving behavior, performance on field sobriety tests, and the officer’s overall interaction with the driver.

Drunk Driving is a “Minor” Offense – A Common Misunderstanding of Those Accused of DUI

Drunk driving offenses like DUI, OWI, OWPD, and Impaired Driving can happen to anyone. It does not mean you are a terrible person, and it does not necessarily have a substance abuse problem. However, there is a psychological and practical toll from a DUI conviction. The belief that a DUI is a minor offense is a common misunderstanding among those accused of drunk driving in Michigan.

There are driver’s license restrictions for OWI and DUI convictions (or suspensions, depending on the charge and the number of prior convictions). Being stopped while driving on a restricted/suspended driver’s license can result in jail, substantial fines, and additional suspensions.

A first DUI can be expunged from your record in Michigan, but many judges are reluctant to grant these motions. If a judge refuses to expunge a DUI conviction, it can be on your record for life.

Additional consequences of a DUI conviction can include increased automobile insurance and damaged credit scores. College students charged with DUI or convicted of DUI can be suspended, and students in professional schools like law, medical, and nursing schools can be expelled. Unemployment benefits can be terminated with a DUI conviction. Convicted military service members can be discharged or saddled with massive restrictions. Licensed professionals can be disciplined by their licensing board or face the possibility of losing their license and livelihood.

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Experienced, Aggressive, and Effective Defense Attorneys Can Help

There are hundreds of DUI lawyers in Michigan, but very few have the reputation, skills, and experience to be considered experts in their field. The various Michigan OWI attorneys have various levels of training, experience, respectability, and expertise. The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of experience successfully defending clients charged with drunk driving offenses. Our attorneys have specialized training and access to expert witnesses to prepare a zealous and cutting-edge defense. No stone must be left unturned in protecting the interest of our firm’s clients.

Our attorneys have successfully defended people charged with drinking and driving offenses in courtrooms throughout Michigan. Our Defense Team is well respected, and we have a reputation for success. We can help, and we are not afraid to win. Call us for a free consultation. We will take the time to talk with you, answer your questions, and work with you to develop a winning strategy.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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